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Benefit Fundraising Policy

Benefit fundraising events sponsored in the name of Stanford or on Stanford land must support the university's educational mission and demonstrate effective stewardship of any proposed beneficiary, working closely with the university.


Benefit fundraisers are events whose proceeds will be donated to a US based 501(c)3 non-profit organization. University policy requires that all benefit events and activities at Stanford must be fully organized and sponsored by registered student organizations and must receive prior university approval through Office of Student Engagement before speakers are arranged, sponsors are sought or advertising conducted. University departments or individuals cannot sponsor benefit fundraising activities in the name of Stanford.


  • There must be a clear link between the mission of the sponsoring student organization, the off-campus charity and the planned activity.
  • Events must be targeted primarily to the Stanford community and occur during the regular academic year when most students are present.
  • Benefit fundraising activities cannot be the prime focus of a Stanford student organization.  
  • Activities must be student-led and represent the initiative of students acting independently of off-campus entities. Student leaders must make all arrangements including managing all fundraising, reimbursements and final accounting.
  • Benefits must be planned as fundraisers from the conception of the event and advertised as such.
  • The proposed beneficiary must have a current and valid US taxpayer ID number, registered as a 501(c) 3 organization, and meet reasonable expectations of responsible stewardship and service, including a minimum of three consecutive years of effective philanthropy. All hoped for beneficiaries must be verified through Guidestar. Create a free account and you can actually read a charities annual tax statements.
  • Most fundraisers must be centered on a planned event or activity and not simply a sale of goods although special arrangements for major natural disasters can be made with prior consultation with OSE staff.  For such special circumstances, university policies still must be followed.
  • A detailed and well-considered budget with estimates of realistic income and expense projections must be presented at the time the activity is submitted for approval. Charitable events should generate reasonable funds for the off-campus beneficiary relative to the event costs and generate a minimum of a 10% of net proceeds for the charity.
  • For large-scale or otherwise unique events, availability of university staff (e.g. public safety, facilities, advisor, etc.) will be an important factor for approval and may not be approved.


  • Cash solicitations (e.g. passing the hat).
  • Student organizations must use a university approved eCommerce vendor for the sale of tickets, products or services. Off-campus accounts such as Paypal, Venmo, or crowdsource options do not meet university guidelines.
  • Crowdsourcing (e.g. using an off-campus fundraising site in the name of Stanford).
  • Raffles ("give aways" which is open to all participants without a fee or charge) are OK.
  • Gambling.
  • Partisan political activities/lobbying.
  • Undergraduate events involving alcohol.
  • Most food sales. Bake sales or sale of hot or cold food. Instead we suggest sale of pre-packaged food items as part of a larger student program. (Note: Food sales require a Santa Clara County Health Permit weeks in advance and require a fee.  Also, sales tax must also be paid remitted to the State of California. Unless part of a larger program, e.g Powwow or Luau, food sales are not effective fundraising activities).
  • Activities during campus breaks and times when students are not present, without prior approval from the Office of Student Engagement.
  • Activities designed to support more than two beneficiaries.
  • Corporate matching from third party organizations.

Other Event Requirements

  • Sales of items that directly relate to the mission of the student group may be sold once a quarter in pre-approved locations including White Plaza, Tresidder Union or Old Union provided that the event has prior university approval and the sale location has a programmatic or educational component. Sales tax must be charged and paid for all such sales through an organization's account.
  • All financial transactions, both expenditures and deposits must be fully handled through the organization's ASSU account. All funds generated must be collected and deposited through the sponsoring student organization’s ASSU account, through the ASSU Eventbrite.  All expenses should also be expended through the student org's ASSU account and the charitable donation should come from this account as well.
  • Groups will need to obtain written verification from your desired beneficiary before final event approval.
  • Good cash handling procedures should be followed including regular, if not daily, deposits of income, detailed accounting of funds and prompt contributions to the charity.
  • All online ticketing should be handled by Stanford Eventbrite through ASSU.
  • Final accounting of your event and the donation to beneficiary should occur within 4–6 weeks of completion.
  • Good stewardship of a current event will impact the approval of future ones.

To Apply